A few months ago a friend of mine, May. Contacted me asking if I wanted to run the TR24 and could put a team together. The TR24 is a 24 hour relay race held on trails. I agreed and started looking at putting a team together.
I jumped on Twitter and just started asking for team members. Before I knew it we had a little team! Yay, team done now its time to enter. I usually end up ringing the race director of events just to discuss the fact I can’t see and if there would be any issues with the course and so on. I was warned; “it might be very difficult in sections” I fobbed this off agreed to do it and entered the team.
2 weeks from race day we lost 2 team members, injuries and work commitments meant they couldn’t make it. So quickly we had to find replacements, luckily a few days later an ultra runner who lives incredibly close by added me on twitter. I asked him if he was interested and he jumped at the chance, one slot filled. May was busy trying to fill the other slot and 3 days before she managed to find someone. Luckily they were local to the event so could even help with setting up camp.
So with our random team built and with a rather fitting name of the Twitterati we all began to descend on the course. Stuart arrived first and bagged THE best camping spot without a doubt! I arrived second with another runner Rohan, setting up camp we sat back and waited for others to arrive. Rew and Craig were the next to arrive. The plan was to chill out that night and do a track walk to get an idea of the terrain in the morning.
Predictably waking up late we didn’t have time to do a full track work we just covered around 2k of the course. The sections we had seen seemed ok and I wasn’t too worried. Heading back to base camp Bryan and Dawn were arriving. We now only needed Colin and May for a full house. They all arrived slightly later and the team was ready to race.
We put Colin at first as that man was fast! putting in great consistent times, Rohan went out second and continued to put in great times. It eventually got to my turn.
The first 2k that we had walked went reasonably well, the rest? well the rest was awful. The terrain was terrible, without a doubt the worst terrain I have ever run on. The wooded sections were so difficult and me and my guide struggled hugely. We decided that a night time run would be out of the question as the difficult in guiding would go through the roof!
Hobbling to the finish line I was struggling, not training for 2 months and my still lingering cough were taking their toll. As soon as I got back to camp I had to lay down for an hour. I was beat, physically and mentally and over such a short distance!
Thankfully the team were excellent, all putting in wonderful times and creating a fantastic atmosphere. The team quickly came up with a new plan to cope with me dropping the night section and everyone prepared themselves for night time running.
For some it was their first experience of running at night and they performed incredibly well. Dawn even went as far to say that she liked it!
With the sun rising it was time for me to head out again. I again found it tough going, the terrain basically made guiding very difficult. Now the issue with guiding on such rough terrain is the fact the guide can only tell you whats going to be underfoot not aid in dodging it. So even if they say roots, dip, rock there is no way of avoiding it you have to take the hit. This was gradually breaking me down and nearing the end of the 10k I really wanted to stop, but I aint got stop built in! So I carried on and made it to the end.
This si where I decided to call it quits, it was simply getting to risky. I wasn’t particularly healthy and the knocks I taking were beginning to have an effect. Wanting to stay healthy for a massive number of events I have coming up I decided to bow out of one more lap. This however turned out for the best!
With Bryan, Rew, Craig, Coling, Rohan, Stuart and Dawn putting in consistent times it looked ilke we may be able to play it sneaky and start out last lap just before the buzzer. With the rules stating as long as the lap has begun before 12 and finished before 1 it counts!
With Dawn putting in a great time setting up Rew for that one slog to get in under 12 minutes. Rew set off and put in a solid time that brought him back at 11:55, I had bowed out and given my slot to Rohan. Rohan did amazing putting in the final lap which resulted in us completing 25 laps! This placed us well above the middle of the table. An amazing result for a team that had only just met on the previous day!
TR24 was perhaps one of the most challenging events I have competed in. Solely because I was so unprepared for that terrain. This did however this did implant the thought I have to go back. Dropping 30 minutes on my usual 10k just due to the terrain, means I have to go back. I will master that course and put in more consistent times!
The overall experience was fantastic though. It fells like a true event, a real weekend away. When you are not running its just great to head to the eating area chill out and meet other runners. It really does have a little festival feel to it that includes a little bit of running.
The opportunity to meet a new set of people was amazing too. I already have multiple races planned with the team members. In the end that is what I see these runs as, an opportunity to meet new people and create new running buddies to compete with in the future.
TR24 was both a horrid experience and a wonderful one at the same time. I will definitely be going back!
(Also I am sure I forgot to mention loads in this post, but so much happened and no one wants to read a 10,000 word essay!)